Monday, February 27, 2006

huh? what'd you say?

So, do you clean out your ears with a Q-tip? I must admit, all the warnings against it notwithstanding, I’ve done that very thing often, although probably for the last time. Because two weeks ago one of the dire predicted things happened to me. The wax I was trying to clear out got tamped down good and proper, deep in my ear canal.

Instantly I was deaf on one side. For though my right ear felt entirely normal and not like it needed to pop, I suddenly couldn’t understand words that weren’t e-n-u-n-c-i-a-t-e-d clearly or even hear the click of my keyboard or mouse.

Over the next 18 or so hours I gained a lot of empathy for people who are partly deaf. I felt as handicapped as I do when I lose my glasses and began to understand that part-quizzical, part-irritated look on the faces of the hard-of-hearing. Not only can’t they hear but they’re a little bugged at the world for failing to speak up!

I did get the old ear irrigated the next day – well worth the momentary unpleasantness. In fact, I think ear wax has been dulling my hearing for a while because I’m still surprised at how rattley is my keyboard, how raspy my slippers.

As for that wonder earwax - there are all kinds of informative pages about it on the internet. They explain how it’s there to collect dead skin and sweat, is supposed to drain naturally, is a protective barrier which contains enzymes that help prevent infection, and in medieval times was even used as an ingredient in the pigment for illuminating manuscripts.

Oh yes, and I found a blog, run by a doctor no less, devoted entirely to ear wax (and boogers and phlegm)!


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